March 23, 2011 / 6:15 AM / 9 years ago

Insurgents kill 3 Muslims in Thai south

YALA, Thailand (Reuters) - Suspected insurgents shot dead three villagers, including a paramilitary guard, in Thailand’s restive Muslim south, police said on Wednesday, the latest violence in the region bordering Malaysia.

At least 10 gunmen, believed to be separatist rebels, stormed a house in Narathiwat province on Tuesday night and opened fire on a Muslim couple and their neighbour as they watched television, Police Lieutenant Pairat Kiatjaroensiri said.

Among the victims was a 33-year-old defence volunteer, one of hundreds trained by the government to provide security in villages across Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani provinces, where ethnic Malay separatists are waging a bloody rebellion against the Thai state.

The paramilitary guards are often viewed as government spies and are prime targets for assassination by insurgents.

The near-daily violence has killed 4,500 people since the decades-old conflict resurfaced in early 2004 in the former Sultanate, where ethnic Malay Muslims form the majority of the local population in a country that is predominantly Buddhist.

Despite a massive deployment of 60,000 members of the security forces in the rubber-rich region, the authorities have made little progress in ending the revolt.

Reporting by Surapan Boonthanom; Writing by Ambika Ahuja; Editing by Martin Petty

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